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Permission development rules are ‘exacerbating affordable housing crisis’, councils warn

Government rules that allow developers to bypass the planning system to build have caused councils to miss out on more than 10,000 “desperately-needed” affordable homes in the past three years, council have warned.

The LGA said that the permission development rules are exacerbating the nation’s housing affordability crisis and “should be scrapped.”

The rules allow offices to be converted into housing without planning permission, and new LGA analysis shows that this has led to the potential loss of 10,500 affordable homes. The latest figures revealed that since 2015, a total of 42,130 housing units in England have converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system, amounting to around 7% of new homes nationally.

Some areas have also suffered a far higher proportion of new housing created through this route, accounting for 40% of new homes in Islington, Welwyn Hatfield, Mole Valley, Croydon and Derby in 2017-18.

The LGA housing spokesperson, Cllr Martin Tett, said: “Permitted development rules are taking away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, ensures homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place and have resulted in the potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.

“The loss of office space is also leaving businesses and start-ups without any premises in which to base themselves.”

He added that council and local communities must have a voice in the planning process, and extending these rules risks exacerbating these problems.

Tett explained: “Planning is not a barrier to house-building, with councils approving nine in 10 planning applications. Councils, which are answerable to their residents, must be given back their ability to oversee all local developments to ensure they are good quality and help build prosperous places.”

Alongside scrapping the existing rules, the LGA is also urging the government to drop proposed plans to extend them to allow upwards extensions to be built without planning permission and allow the demolition of existing commercial buildings for new homes without planning consent.

Image credit - Duncan_Andison


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